ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, October 15, 2006
Vol. 41 - No 20

The canned delicacy may be poison

By Nadia Fazlulhaq

Beware! some of the food you are eating these days in the belief that they are delicious imported items may cause indigestion, food poisoning or something worse.

A dangerously increasing number of food items which have gone beyond expiry dates or are close to them are being imported and sold to unsuspecting consumers, a top health official said yesterday.

The Colombo Municipality’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Pradeep Kariyawasam said distributors were loading outdated and therefore dangerous products not only in city outlets but even in rural areas.

He said that to attract customers, these dated items were being sold at cut prices and he warned the people that the little they save would be nothing compared to the consequences they suffer from possible food poisoning. Another attraction or temptation was the offer of two packs for the price of one and both being bad.

He said that in most cases, the expired date had been rubbed off and a new date forged on the item by the distributor and the consumers needed to double check whether the expiry date was genuine or counterfeit.

Dr. Kariyawasam said he feared many kitchens were overloaded with dated items where the forged expiry date carried a “Best Before” legend.

He said the main items in this racket were canned foods and recently his inspectors found some 20 kilos of cheese beyond their expiry date and unfit if not dangerous for human consumption.

He said the racket was going on in restaurants and takeaway outlets also with dated canned items being prepared and sold to unsuspecting customers.

Dr. Kariyawasam said there was evidence of extensive relabelling of the outdated items and this was likely to increase because of the bigger demand during the coming festive season.

He said turkey being a traditional Christmas delicacy, the food racketeers were in previous years known to relabel and sell at high prices turkey that was hard as wood.

Dr.Kariyawasam said the imported items being used by the racketeers came not only from the West but also from countries like China.

He urged the people to help curb this menace by double checking what they buy and bringing any suspicious items to the notice of the municipalities and public health departments. He said people could call 2676161/2696594.

Health Ministry’s Food Safety Director Dr. C.K. Shanmugarajah said his officials were taking every step to check the outdated items at the Customs clearing point.

But the law had some loopholes and amendments would be introduced soon.

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Copyright 2006 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.